Feng Zhang is a core institute member of the Broad Institute of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, as well as an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor in Neuroscience at MIT, and an associate professor at MIT, with joint appointments in the departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering.
Zhang is a molecular biologist developing and applying novel molecular technologies for studying the molecular and genetic basis of diseases and providing treatment. Zhang has pioneered the development of genome editing tools for use in eukaryotic cells – including human cells – from natural microbial CRISPR systems. He and his team have adapted multiple CRISPR systems for use as genome engineering tools, including most recently, the RNA-targeting system CRISPR-Cas13a.
Zhang leverages CRISPR and other methods to study the genetics and epigenetics of human diseases, especially complex disorders, such as psychiatric and neurological diseases, that are caused by multiple genetic and environmental risk factors and which are difficult to model using conventional methods. His lab’s tools, which he has made widely available, are also being used in the fields of immunology, clinical medicine, and cancer biology, among others. His long-term goal is to develop novel therapeutic strategies for disease treatment.
Zhang is a recipient of many awards including the Canada Gairdner International Award, the Tang Prize, the Blavatnik National Award for Young Scientists, and the Albany Medical Center Prize in Medicine and Biomedical Research. He has also received technology innovation awards from the Paul G. Allen Family, McKnight, New York Stem Cell, and Damon Runyon foundations.
Zhang received his A.B. in chemistry and physics from Harvard College and his Ph.D. in chemistry from Stanford University.
Zhang is an alumnus of the 2000 Science Talent Search and the 1998 and 1999 International Science and Engineering Fair. He joined the Society’s Board of Trustees in 2017.